Woodburn, The Governor’s House – Dover, Delaware


's House - Dover, Delaware.jpgWoodburn, The Governor’s House – Dover, Delaware

When you become the Governor of Delaware one of the privileges is the right to move into this beautiful, historic home which is the official residence of the Governor and their family.

Part of the charm of this home is the history of those that lived in it prior to the state purchasing it for the Governor’s estate.  There were Gentlemen farmers, landowners, an abolitionist, two US Senators, two doctors; a dentist, a judge and eight recent Delaware Governors have all been part of this history.

Built in 1798 by Charles Hillyard III, this home is one of the finest Middle Period Georgian houses in Delaware.

There is a Wall of First Ladies at the mansion.  At the beginning of Governor Ruth Ann Minner’s administration she had the portraits hung to honor those that “contributed so much to the state but were not recognized.”  All of the portraits were individually painted and are now on display, as are the portraits of the governors that served the great state of Delaware over the years.

The house is said to have the ghost of the builder, Charles Hillyard III roaming around at different times.  Numerous people have claimed to have seen the gentleman on the stairways.  There is also supposedly a ghostly visitor of a small girl in a gingham dress and bonnet.  She supposedly carries a candle and walks the grounds around the reflecting pool.  She was also seen by some guests in the Great Hall during an inaugural party for Governor Mike Castle.

Then there is the local legend of the gullet that is lodged in the front door of Woodburn.  It is said that it is a result of a long and heated argument between Charles Hillyard III and one of his sons.  The son wanted to go to Philadelphia to school to finish his education and his father wanted him to stay in Dover.  The argument became so intense that Mr. Hillyard fired a shot at his son, who ducked behind the Dutch door and avoided being injured.  The son went to Philadelphia to school despite his fathers’ wishes and the bullet still remains in the Dutch door.  It can be seen behind a piece of Plexiglas.

Legend also has it that the house was a safe haven for escaped slaves traveling north.  There is no solid evidence that this is true but it makes for a great legend!

Tours of Woodburn are open to the public Monday – Friday from 8:30 AM – 4 PM, by appointment only.

Admission: Free 

Tours MUST be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance.

Phone: 302-739-5656

Email: Julie.sulzbacher@state.de.us

Location: 151 Kings Hwy, Dover, Delaware 19901

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